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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: tattoos

Man, 78, sent to prison for pot dealing

A 78-year-old man who allowed drug traffickers to use his property just south of the Canadian border in Ferry County will spend 2 1/2 years in federal prison, a judge ruled Thursday.

Alvin Oliver Shields had 700 pounds of marijuana on his property when federal agents searched it in 2009. His lawyer, Jeffry Finer, said he retired from drug trafficking two years before a grand jury indicted him in September.

Shields and his wife live in Lebanon, Ore. His criminal history includes only a conviction for petty larceny in 1958.

Finer described him in court documents as a good humored man with poor hearing and early signs of dementia. He graduated high school in the 1950s but can't remember the year. He also couldn't initially remember the name of his first wife.

“Mr. Shields was ultimately able to provide it to Probation when he noticed it was tattooed on his left arm,” Finer wrote.

Prosecutors say Shields lived in Canada for 30 years. Federal agents began investigating Shields in 2003 after a Border Patrol agent found four duffel bags with 140 pounds of marijuana after four people ran from Fourth of July Creek Road, west of Danville, into Canada.

The agent then saw Shields “driving slowly in a van with the rear cargo doors propped open,” according to a plea agreement.

Then in 2008, a multi-agency investigation determined Shields was letting marijuana traffickers in Canada transport pot to his property, where it was then taken to Spokane and stored for distribution by U.S. drug traffickers.

Shields pleaded guilty in May to money laundering, structuring financial transactions to avoid reporting requirements, conspiracy to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana (dating back to 2003) and three counts of failure to file income tax returns.

He was sentenced Thursday in Spokane by U.S. District Judge Rosanna Peterson to 30 months in prison followed by five years of probation. The court is recommending he be housed at the federal prison in Sheridan, Ore., to allow his wife, whom Finer described as “aged and unwell,” to visit.

Finer said a short incarceration period “will promote respect for the law and provide general deterrence to others who, like Mr. Shields, may find criminal opportunity in owning property alongside the border with Canada.”

Tattoo could help track mail theft suspect

   A 28-year-old Coeur d'Alene man and a 17-year-old runaway from Oregon are suspected of stealing checks from mailboxes in the Lake City.

Michael Graham Wilkins and Lacey Lynn Fugate are suspected of stealing two checks from a business' mailbox in the 100 block of East Locust Avenue around July 28, police said Thursday.

Police released their photos Thursday, along with a photo of an tattoo on Wilkins' right arm.

Wilkins is accused of adding his name to the checks and cashing them at Safeway.

An employee told police he cashes checks there recently.

A warrant has been issued for Wilkins' arrest. Fugate is a runaway from Douglas County, Oregon.

Anyone with information on their location is asked to call the Coeur d'Alene Police Department at (208) 769-2320.

Serial burglar sentenced to 10 years

A serial burglar is to spend 10 years in prison and pay more than $14,000 in restitution after pleading guilty to 17 felonies.

Robert J. Frates, 27, burglarized tanning salons, tattoo shops and other small businesses in a burglary spree that ended in late March when police followed him using a GPS tracker affixed to Frates' Bronco and watched him burglarize a business.

He also burglarized sports card shops last winter and stole the firearm used in the shooting death of John S. Williams on Jan. 17, 2010.

Frates' 120-month prison sentence and $14,650 restitution order came after he pleaded guilty last week to possession of a stolen firearm, second-degree attempted burglary. three counts of second-degree burglary, two counts of first-degree possession of stolen property and four counts of second-degree burglary.

Past coverage:

April 1: Police link burglary suspect to gun used in gang slaying

Tattoo leads to murder conviction in LA


LOS ANGELES — The process was routine. Los Angeles County Sheriff's homicide investigator Kevin Lloyd was flipping through snapshots of tattooed gang members.

Then one caught his attention.

Inked on the pudgy chest of a young Pico Rivera gangster who had been picked up and released on a minor offense was the scene of a 2004 liquor store slaying that had stumped Lloyd for more than four years.

Each key detail was right there: the Christmas lights that lined the roof of the liquor store where 23-year-old John Juarez was gunned down, the direction his body fell, the bowed street lamp across the way and the street sign — all under the chilling banner of RIVERA KILLS, a reference to the gang Rivera-13.

As if to seal the deal, below the collarbone of the gang member known by the alias “Chopper” was a miniature helicopter raining down bullets on the scene.
  

Read the rest of the story by Robert Faturechi of the Los Angeles times here.

Suspected serial burglar pleads innocent

A felon accused of stealing the gun used in a gang-related murder last year has been charged with five burglaries.

 Robert J. Frates, 27, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to four counts of felony second-degree burglary and one count of attempted second-degree burglary.

He's accused of breaking into Sunny Buns Tanning, 2821 E. 27th Av., on March 15, Smart Smoke, 12924 W. Sunset Highway, Metro Sign and Banner, 1403 N. Greene, and another building in Airway Heights on March 25.

He's also charged with attempted-second-degree burglary for a break-in March 26 at Super Sonic Blind Cleaners, 3612 E. Broadway Ave.

Police arrested Frates that day after an officer followed him using a GPS tracker affixed to Frates' Bronco.

Last June, Frates told police he'd to traded four stolen firearms to a man for $600. One of the guns was the Ruger mini 30, which was used to kill John S. Williams. Edward L. “TD” Thomas is scheduled to stand trial June 20 for Williams' murder.

Past coverage:

April 1: Police link burglary suspect to gun used in gang slaying

Dec. 14: Man arrested in sports card crime spree

Burglary suspect linked to murder gun

A suspected serial burglar tracked by police using a GPS device is believed to have stolen the gun that was later used in a gang-related murder.

Robert J. Frates’ arrest on Tuesday is his third since December, when police picked him up on suspicion of breaking into several sports card stores in Spokane Valley.

No charges have been filed in that case, but Frates, 27, has a trial scheduled in June for charges related to the sale of stolen property, including several firearms.

One of those firearms, a Ruger Mini rifle, was used in the shooting death of John S. Williams on Jan. 17, 2010, police said.

Read the rest of my story here.

Burglar hits Spokane Valley tattoo shop

Five tattoo guns were stolen from a Spokane Valley shop last Friday.

The owner of Feel Good Tattoo, 12 N. Skipworth Road, said he slept through a 4 a.m. call from his alarm company but awoke at 9 .am. and had an employee check the business.

The burglar entered the shop through a damaged door, according to Spokane Valley police Officer H.J. Whapeles.

Items stolen include a Kodak camera, a Ted Tattoo gun, a OnePulse tattoo gun, two Spalding tattoo guns and a Dixon tattoo gun, as well as Eternal and Starbright paints, safety glasses, disposable tubes and numerous tattoo needles.  Value of the items exceeds $1,000.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

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